(St. Clair College students in the Performing Arts Music Theatre Performance and Entertainment Technology programs performing during rehearsal of the annual A St. Clair Christmas holiday production at The Chrysler Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, December 5, 2019. From left Sierra Libin, Alexandra Rhodes, Aurora McClennan, Kihanna Becke, and Patrick Forbes. Photo above by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor.)
This year the 14th annual edition of A St. Clair Christmas, the St. Clair College Music Theatre and Entertainment Technology student’s popular holiday show, takes their audience on a magical journey to the North Pole where conflict is threatening Santa’s Christmas Eve flight.
The heartwarming and hilarious holiday extravaganza opened this weekend and Eyes On Windsor was given a sneak peek during rehearsal on Thursday (Dec 5). Program and Artistic Director Katherine Kaszas explained, “the music is from the 1950s and ‘60s but the theme is the North Pole and reindeer. They all have opinions on the way things should go. It takes the course of the entire show for them to all pull together and get ready for the big ride up in the sky to the various homes across the world.”
Around 50 students are involved with the production, 35 cast members, and the remainder working behind the scenes on various aspects such as lighting, audio, and stage management. The third year students devised the show from scratch and primarily take on the lead roles. “Our graduating class puts this together in conjunction with myself and Mike Karloff, the music director,” says Kaszas. “It’s all story through song and dance.”
Mike Karloff explained a total of six professional musicians are performing the musical score during the show. While the band is small, Karloff says, “we are very lucky to have instrumentalists who can double (play multiple instruments).”
The students were instructed to use music from the 1950’s and ‘60s. “Usually we take an era of music to narrow down the scope of what the students can do and what the sound of the show will be like,” says Kaszas. ”This year they’ve taken a lot of 50’s and 60’s tunes and made them into Christmas songs that are reflective of the characters’ situation, story conflict and that kind of thing.” She says the music in the show will be fun because “there’s lots of really good 50s/60s era rock n roll songs, and lots of good harmony songs.”
With Production Manager Dan Rehel leading St. Clair’s Entertainment Technology students, a beautiful North Pole set, festively colourful costumes by Agatha Knelsen, and renowned choreographers Kristyn Wiklanski and Melissa Williams putting dance numbers together, families will experience a thrilling musical and dance production for the holidays.
During Thursday’s sneak peek the magic all came together as the full cast rehearsed the opening scene, “The Reindeer Fly Tonight.” The ensemble singing, dancing, and the colourful set and costumes immediately captivated everyone watching. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)”, a song adapted by doo-wop group the Tokens in 1961 reached number one on the charts, and was reworked for A St. Clair Christmas’ opening scene.
The familiar music will have you humming, tapping your toes, and singing “a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh” as you watch the stage filled with dancing elves and reindeer. But the main lyrics have been changed, instead of the mighty jungle or sleeping lion, the St. Clair students have taken the tune to the North Pole and sing of flying reindeer.
Jawon Mapp is the first to sing the changed lyrics; “In the North Pole, the chilly North Pole, the reindeer fly tonight.” Alexandra Rhodes was up next singing; “In the workshop, yes Santa’s workshop, the elves worked hard tonight.” During the scene Alexandra was also among the cast of reindeer who leap through the air, but perhaps the highest “flying” one of all was Bradley Balmforth.
The question is will these reindeer be able to sort out their differences of opinion and fly high together on Christmas Eve? The answer can be found at The Chrysler Theatre were final performances of A St. Clair Christmas take place on December 12 and 13 at 7:30pm and Dec 14 at 2:30pm.
For more information visit the Eyes On Windsor event listing for A St. Clair Christmas.